Benson John Lossing, journalist and illustrator, in 1848 conceived the project of doing a history of the American Revolution. At that time the end of the Revolution was 65 years in the past, and if the last survivors of that conflict were to be interviewed about their experiences, this was the time to do it. Lossing would go to the sites of the battles and other great events, interview participants and make pen an ink drawings of what he saw. Over the next two years he logged 8,000 miles throughout Canada and the United States. Lossing displayed rare skill for his time as an historian, doing extensive primary research and carefully weighing the evidence when his sources conflicted. His interviews with veterans preserved material of real historical value on their nation’s foundign for future generations of Americans.
Serialized initially in Harper’s Magazine in 1850 and then published in two volumes in 1853, Lossing’s Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution was a hit. Among many other historical works, Lossing would publish pictorial field books on the War of 1812 and the Civil War, the Civil War three volumes containing the first publication in book form of Mathew Brady photograph of the Civil War. Although his works tend to be overlooked today, Lossing was a giant in American historiography of the nineteenth century and deserves to be remembered.